Seahorse

Movie review by
Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Seahorse Movie Poster Image
Important transgender pregnancy doc has strong language.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 91 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Self-acceptance and staying true to yourself. Perseverance in the face of adversity is also a key theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Freddy is a transgender man sharing a difficult experience to help highlight similar plights for others. He is open and thoughtful, and though he has great moments of struggle, he is determined to overcome them. His mother is also a good role model. She is a strong and open-minded woman who offers unconditional support. Most characters, including friends, are supportive, though a problematic relationship with an estranged father causes pain.

Violence

A real-life water birth is shown on screen, including blood. Medical needles are seen injected into the skin on a number of occasions.

Sex

There is passing mention of sex and orgasms. Partial nudity is shown when injecting hormones and when giving birth. There is mention of sexuality and gender identity. Scenes at a sperm bank and insemination are shown.

Language

Frequent profanity including "f--k," "f--king," and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol at dinner with some becoming mildly drunk. There is mention of taking prescription drugs including testosterone and also pregnancy hormones.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Seahorse (also known as Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth) is a fascinating documentary about a transgender man, Freddy McConnell, and his journey toward having a baby. There is discussion of gender identity and sexuality, as well as the use of pronouns such as he/him and they/their. Because of the nature of the documentary, medical procedures are mentioned frequently and there are scenes showing injections, scans, and a water birth. There is video footage of Freddy as a child and school reports that reference his given female name. Reference is made to a problematic relationship with his father and Freddy is seen visibly upset. There are concerns about acceptance and identity, and a number of scenes where Freddy struggles. But ultimately the documentary is warm and uplifting, and likely to be informative for those not familiar with trans issues.

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What's the story?

In SEAHORSE (also known as SEAHORSE: THE DAD WHO GAVE BIRTH) Freddy McConnell is a gay transgender man who decides to try and get pregnant. He stops taking testosterone and visits a sperm clinic, initially with a trans partner -- with whom he intends to co-parent -- but then with his mother as he decides to go it alone. From the positive pregnancy test to the birth of his son, the documentary follows Freddy's struggles with his changing body and emotions, as well as his concerns about communicating his journey to those he loves and the outside world.

Is it any good?

This brave and unflinching documentary offers insight into an experience rarely seen or talked about. It is an important opportunity for those unaware of the trans experience to go on a journey with Freddy and those close to him, and to see first-hand the problematic issues that still surround gender identity in the modern world. The title references the way in which male seahorses carry their young. Director Jeanie Finlay uses undersea images as well as footage of Freddy as a child to further express his journey as his decreasing testosterone and changing body make him think about his old name and pronouns.

Freddy is open and generous providing access to himself and those around him over the course of three years. Seahorse captures the daily micro-aggressions he experiences -- from the gendered language used by medical professionals to behavior from those around him -- that force him to keep explaining and defending his desire to do something that is essentially the most natural thing: to bring another human into the world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the transgender issues raised in Seahorse. What are some of the obstacles Freddy comes up against and how does he overcome them? Did you learn anything about issues surrounding being transgender that you were not aware of before?

  • What is transgender representation like in the media? Can you think of other trans characters in films and TV? LGBTQ movies for teens.

  • Talk about the language used in the movie. Does it make a difference that the film is a real-life documentary rather than a scripted movie? If so, why?

  • Discuss the relationship between Freddy and his mother? What makes them so close? How did this compare to Freddy's relationship with his father?

  • How are documentaries a good way of telling people's stories? What other issues have you learned about through documentaries? Do you have a favorite documentary? What are some of the best documentaries to watch?

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